A few words of explanation:
Shirley requested a moo-fic for herself and 3-year-old Ana. But, I missed the part where she said how she and Ana knew each other. I'm sure she said in a post or other onlist but I missed it. Sorries. (Parenthetically, we now know she is her grandchild.)
So, I've made them mother and daughter - just because.
I'm using the name Shirley for the mother. Shir-lee-shore, if you object to that name being used on my site (the final resting place of all moo-fic unless the recipient specifies they don't want it so) speak up, onlist or off.
Ana, at three, is too young to know how she feels about these things, so I'm using a composite of Shirley and Ana: Shayna. In Yiddish it means pretty (used in the feminine). A similar word in a similar language is the German 'schoen'.
And, out of respect to Kerri Ann I haven't paired Turnbull with anyone.
Inspector Thatcher held a briefing for her two constables every morning. Promptly at 8:30 am they stood before her while she recapped their duties for the day, pointing out anything in particular she felt was worth pointing out. Pointless, to Fraser's way of thinking. Duty rosters were prepared two weeks in advance and there was rarely anything new that needed to be imparted. In his infrequently cynical frames of mind, Fraser speculated that the woman just enjoyed having her two men under her command standing before helpless, immobile and looking good for her enjoyment.
The first time Fraser had thought this he had chided himself for vanity, but only the first time. The second, third and all subsequent times his innate honesty won out over his also innate modesty and he allowed that Inspector Thatcher did think he was cute.
Well, what was new about that? All his life he had endured being cute. In his early childhood his cheeks were constantly raw from the relentless pinching of old people. The older the people, the harder they could pinch.
On this Monday morning, Fraser and Turnbull stood shoulder to shoulder, towering over their seated commander who made sure during these interviews that she remained seated, because if she were to stand up they would still tower over her and psychological effect of that would be totally wrong.
She recapped the day's schedule, unnecessarily since it was the same as yesterday�s schedule, and then invited her constables to ask any questions or make any comments they might wish to make.
To her and Fraser's surprise Turnbull spoke up. (He spoke softly and timidly, as he usually did, mitigating what might have been their astonishment or shock to mere surprise, although that surprise was not inconsiderable.)
"Sir, I'd like permission for my niece to remain with me at the consulate during work hours next week. My sister is coming in to Chicago and she'll be busy at conferences every day during working hours. She hasn't got anyone to take care of her daughter back in Winnipeg so she has to bring her along. I was hoping I could take care of her without losing work time, Sir. I'm not on guard duty next week. She could stay with me at my desk."
"How old is your niece, Constable?"
"Shayna is three, Sir."
"Then shouldn't your sister get a babysitter for her?"
"Oh no, Sir. Shayna's never had a babysitter. Our family doesn't believe in them."
"Turnbull, that's nonsense. Babysitters are everywhere. It's foolish to say they don't exist."
Turnbull sighed and looked briefly to Fraser for assistance. Fraser only shrugged. Then both men caught the look of disapproval from Thatcher for daring to exchange looks and shrugs while at attention. They stiffened to more rigid postures immediately.
"Sir, my sister and I are aware there are such things as babysitters. If I may clarify, that�s not the point. The point is that my parents and my sister never considered babysitters to be desirable for children. I never had one. I always stayed with relatives or went where my parents went."
I never had a babysitter either, mused Fraser, I stayed with Mom when I was little because there was no place for her to go in the bush anyway, and after she died I stayed with Grandma and Grandpa because they never went anywhere that I couldn't go too.
The men saw their commander's eyes soften. "That's admirable, Constable. I was left with so many nannies when I was little. I missed . . . never mind what I missed. Your niece can stay at the consulate while you are working. Fraser and I can help entertain her, can't we Fraser?"
Thus appealed to, what could Fraser say but, 'Yes, Sir.'
Turnbull's niece, Shayna, was as cute as only a three-year-old girl can be. Her looks, her childish lisp, her ingenuous manner all added up to total affect of being in every way adorable. Her very name was appropriate: Shayna, meaning 'pretty'.
With the Inspector's blessing, little Shayna spent the first Monday morning skipping happily from office to office in the consulate, stopping to chatter prettily with whomever she saw, poking her chubby fingers at their computers and re-arranging the items on their desks.
When she got to Fraser's domain, she found him to be a kindred spirit and lingered there for over an hour until lunch time. (Perhaps something in her little brain responded on a subconscious level to another person who was immeasurably cute.)
When noon came around, Fraser saved and closed the files he was working on, backed up, encrypted and locked his terminal, then took the girl's tiny hand and led her back to Turnbull's office.
"Here's our little guest," Fraser announced, "Say, Turnbull, why don't we all go out for lunch together. I know an outdoor establishment where the fecal matter count is well within acceptable tolerance."
Thus it came to pass that a curious trio was seen making its way down the street: two tall Mounties in red serge - one very cute and one reasonably handsome. Between them a little girl held a Mountie hand in each of her own. And the girl was somewhat cuter than one of the Mounties and very much cuter than the other.
For Fraser, the walk down the street was a treat. He was in the company of someone cuter than himself. It was the child, not he, that drew approving looks from passersby. A very pleasant novelty. Fraser found himself accordingly uttering novel pleasantries. He even caught himself tempted to pinch her little cheeks. All through that delightful lunchtime he thought about ways to keep the child close to him so as to absorb and deflect everyone's attention, like a tiny, cute lightning rod.
They acquired hot dogs and soft drinks at an outdoor stand and then settled with them on bench in a small park across the street. Rather, the two Mounties settled while Shayna first stuffed a hotdog into her pretty, sweet little mouth and then toddled off to play on the park's swing set. Heads turned as she ran on her adorable little feet, her mouth grinning widely showing twin rows of tiny perfect teeth.
Nobody gave Fraser a second look. He was ecstatic.
The Mounties talked idly while the child played, but Fraser noticed that Turnbull seemed nervous. He inquired what the problem was.
"I'm in a terrible pickle, Constable Fraser. Not just me. Me and my sister and Shayna. A terrible pickle."
"Tell me about it, Turnbull."
"To start off with, I lied. I lied to you and Inspector Thatcher."
Fraser let out an encouraging mmm-hmmm to keep Turnbull talking.
"I'm not watching Shayna because my sister doesn�t approve of babysitters. Oh, Fraser, the truth is she has to take part in this trade show or she'll lose her job, but she couldn't afford to hire anyone to take care of Shayna while she was out of town. She had to bring Shayna along."
"You don't have any other family?"
"None, none," said Turnbull, plaintively. "My sister isn't even supposed to have Shayna with her in the hotel room this week. Her office is paying all her expenses and they wouldn't approve her bringing her daughter along. She's so afraid someone at the hotel will see them together. Or someone will come in the room and see Shayna's things there."
"It is fortunate that this trade show just happens to take place in the one city in the world where her brother happens to be," Fraser opined.
"Oh yes, a tremendous co-incidence. The kind you usually would only have in fiction. But meanwhile Shayna has to sleep somewhere, and if not in the hotel then where?"
Fraser sat for a moment, considering Turnbull's situation.
"It's too bad Shayna can't stay with you, but I don't guess you have enough room in your cardboard box."
"No, there�s barely room for me," Turnbull wailed in his distress.
"If we brought over some extra bedding, you and Shayna could bunk with Diefenbaker and me this week. My apartment is small, but we could all squeeze in. Shayna could play with Dief. She might have a very nice time."
Turnbull began to stammer his gratitude, then he stopped and asked "You don't think, Constable Fraser, that anyone would think it was inappropriate for a little girl to be sleeping over with two grown men?"
Both Mounties turned to look at the sweet little girl, swinging on her swing, her little legs kicking cutely up and down as she laughed musically.
"That's just silly, Turnbull," said Fraser, settling the matter.
That evening after work they all walked over to Turnbull's box, where he scooped up what pillows and bedding he had, and a change of clothes and toiletries for overnight. Then they took a bus to the hotel where Turnbull's sister was staying.
Turnbull and his sister had been playing telephone tag all afternoon to set up the plan Fraser had in mind. When they arrived in the hotel lobby, they already knew that Shirley would be tied up at a company dinner and that Shayna's suitcase would be waiting for them in the hotel's luggage room.
By this time Fraser was ready to splurge on a taxi to get the group and their pile of belongings back to his apartment.
Turnbull had never been to Constable Fraser's apartment before. Once inside, he wandered about the place, as curious as a toddler and just as bold. The actual toddler came through the threshold, took one look at Diefenbaker and with a happy cry of "Doggie!" threw herself at the wolf. Diefenbaker didn't mind; he lapped up the attention. Immune as he was to human cuteness, he still enjoyed the cooing and petting he was getting from the child.
Seeing that his guest were being entertained - Shayna with Dief and Turnbull with poking about Fraser's spare furnishings - Fraser set about to do practical things. He combined Turnbull's beddings with some extra Hudson's Bay Company blankets of his own to produce a rudimentary sleeping area on the floor for himself and Turnbull, leaving his bed for little Shayna to occupy. The he rummaged through his refrigerator for a meal he could improvise. He found some ground beef, some instant potato flakes and a can of corn. Sufficient for a shepherd's pie, he decided. He set about cooking, casting an eye every now and then on what Turnbull might be doing. Shayna, he knew, would be safe under Dief's watchful eye.
At last the shepherd's pie was ready to be placed in the oven. Fraser left it to bake and then came out to join Turnbull and Shayna. The child, tired from the day's exciting exploration of new places and people, was already asleep curled up against Dief's soft, warm flank. The wolf told Fraser, with quiet "woof", not to make too much noise.
Turnbull, being larger and taking longer to tire, was still deep in exploratory mode. Fraser caught him examining the items lined up on top of the mantelpiece of the bricked over fireplace. Specifically, Turnbull had hold of a business card and was peering at it seriously as Fraser came into the room.
"Dawn Charest, Media Relations Consultant" he read aloud to Fraser. "Any relation?"
"Not that she told me."
"Why do you have the card of a person like this?" Turnbull wanted to know. He spoke a little too loudly for Diefenbaker's liking and the wolf growled at him softly.
In a whisper, Fraser summarized for Turnbull the tale of his encounter the year before with Mark Smithbauer and about the hockey player's media consultant who had tried to recruit the Mountie for product endorsements.
"I wasn�t really sure what she meant at the time. I guess I still don't entirely understand, but I didn't like the sound of it."
"Commercials, Constable Fraser. She must have contacts with talent agencies," the other Mountie explained, pleased that there was something he knew better than his more experienced co-worker. "She might even get you on billboards, the sides of buses, why, all over the country."
"What would be in it for her, Turnbull?"
"Fifteen per cent of whatever you make. That's the usual percentage."
Fraser thought about this. "She claimed she would be able to make me a rich man."
"I'm sure she could. If I may say so, Sir, you are good-looking, and your voice is very well modulated when you use the lower registers."
It's all about being cute, Fraser thought. He looked away from Turnbull to the child curled up with Diefenbaker. She was letting out tiny sighs and sniffles as she snoozed. She's as cute - no - cuter, asleep as awake, he observed. If this Charest woman thought being cute would bring him money, perhaps the same could work for little Shayna.
While the two of them were eating, Fraser broached the idea to Turnbull.
The other Mountie was enthusiastic. "Shirley would bank the money for Shayna, of course."
"I don't think it would be wrong for your sister to use part of it to help her care for Shayna, if she were careful to keep most of it aside for daughter."
"Of course, but only if she were in dire straits. Shirley would never do anything that wasn't in Shayna's best interest."
The men resolved to call Dawn Charest the next morning.
Shayna slept another half hour until Diefenbaker decided she should be fed before actually settling down for the night and nudged the child awake. The girl would only agree to eat if Diefenbaker were allowed to share her meal. With this gesture, she made a friend for life.
The next morning, Inspector Thatcher took Shayna shopping, leaving Fraser and Turnbull an opportunity to place a call to Dawn Charest.
"Of course I remember you, Constable," she cooed over the telephone. "Please tell me you're ready to sign with me. I know just the people I want to introduce you to."
Turnbull heard her too, his face held close to Fraser's head to hear the conversation.
"Actually, Ms. Charest . . ." he began, resisting the urge to correct her grammar. She ought to have said 'I know just the people to whom I want to introduce you.'
"Call me Miss Charest. I like the whole world to know I'm available."
"Actually, Miss Charest, I was wondering whether you also represent children."
"Children? Why? Do you have someone in mind?"
"The niece of a colleague of mine. She's a very attractive child. She's three."
"Oh." Both Fraser and the listening Turnbull heard the disappointment on the other end of the line.
After a pause they heard Dawn Charest say, "Very young children are in great demand because it so difficult to find any that can learn lines, work under direction and remain calm during long shoots. Shirley Temple was working at age three, not because she was cuter than any other child of her generation, but because she had the temperament of a much older child. Most young children can't handle the demands of working on camera. They tire easily, they're distractible and they tend to throw tantrums.
"Perhaps if you met Shayna you would be able to tell whether she had the appropriate temperament."
"I can arrange to have her audition at a talent agency, I suppose." The woman didn't sound overly enthusiastic, but Turnbull was nodding and grinning with enthusiasm enough for himself, Charest and the ambivalent Fraser.
"Could it be this week, please? They're not in town very long."
"One condition, Constable. You sign with me. Today. No matter what happens with the kid."
Fraser was hit with a surge of dismay. He had no such intention.
"Do you really hate money that much, Constable Fraser? It's honest work, I assure you."
"I already have a job, Miss Charest."
"Are you allowed to moonlight?"
"Well, yes," Fraser allowed, "as long as it does not put me in conflict of interest with my police duties."
"It doesn't. I've handled cops before."
Turnbull was becoming very distressed. He silently mouthed the words 'please oh please' in Fraser's direction.
Shayna, for all her cuteness, didn't prove to have the patience for an acting career at this young age. But Fraser, at the advanced age of thirty-five, was quite up to the demands of learning lines and maintaining his cool during long demanding hours of shooting.
He did insist on contributing his half of all his earnings to the upkeep of Turnbull's little niece and her mother. Shirley didn't want to accept the gifts, but Fraser was adamant. Diefenbaker, he explained, had become so enamored of the child that he insisted that a nest egg be created for her.
It took some convincing to make Shirley and Turnbull believe that a wolf had an understanding of finance, but finally they relented. Fraser further pointed out that if it hadn't been for the impetus of wanting to get work for little Shayna, he never would have come into this money in the first place.
I think it would only follow that Fraser and Diefenbaker might have visited Shirley and Shayna in Winnipeg from time to time. And if anything happened between the Mountie and the cute little girl's mother = well - that is nobody else's business but their own.