This is the story that started it all. While writing with a group at the local senior center, we received a weekly assignment to write to the topic, “The Mysterious Men.” And that’s where Maggie originated. While this little story doesn’t fit into the book anywhere, it is near to my heart as “the first.”
Maggie Tiggles and the Mysterious Men
Maggie Tiggles was in a pickle. She had made a promise to a friend in need last night, and the weather was not participating. She’d known a winter storm was supposed to blow in late last night, but, as often happened in these parts, the snow mounted up faster and higher than anticipated. This morning, by bank’s opening time, no one was moving.
Her friend had visited early evening yesterday, with his simple request. Well, simple to her, anyway. It had taken her friend some time to finally confess his dilemma. An old friend of Tig’s for many years, he had known he could trust Maggie implicitly, and divulged to her the existence of a secret group of men, wide-scattered, who had embarked upon a yearly mission. As he fumbled for words and danced around his request, Maggie had been quick to offer the solution he was seeking, and the promise was made. Now, to get to her safety deposit box and keep that promise.
A few hours later, a call revealed that the bank had just opened. Maggie had only two hours to complete her mission.
“Well,” she thought to herself, “there’s nothing else for it. I’ve got to go.” She bundled into her sturdiest outdoor gear, gathered the necessary paperwork, made her way to the garage, and strapped on her snow shoes. She would have to make haste to get to the bank on time.
Five hours later, Maggie dropped, exhausted, into her overstuffed chair. She grinned. That was worth it. She would be feeling this in her body, especially her legs, for the next few days, but the consequences would last the rest of her life.
The next evening, she made sure to watch the local evening news. Yep, there it was. They’d made it.
She sat back with her tea, and allowed herself the bittersweet pleasure of contemplating her Tig. She was so proud of him.
Thirty-five years ago, while Tig was abroad, his work brought him to Johannesburg, South Africa. He was engaged in some very challenging and lucrative work, which took up most hours of his days. However, times being what they were in South Africa, he was soon entangled in the raging apartheid tearing at the social fabric of that country. Under the guise of his work and its requisite travel, and at great risk to his own life and limb, he had coordinated and carried out a plan to aid in the escape of an entire family from Soweto to Gabarone, across South Africa’s border in Botswana. The company for which he worked, unaware to the end of Tig’s underground efforts, paid him richly. As a token of their appreciation, and also of their own pride in their country’s riches, they paid most of his wages in gold Krugerrands. Many of those Krugerrands had gone to the family he’d helped. Illegal to trade in the US and most Western countries at the time, Tig had ferreted them away until he’d moved to their own little town, 25 years ago, to open a grocery store. He’d cashed in a number of them in the years since, but Maggie had inherited quite a few. She hadn’t known what to do with them. Yes, they held memories. Shameful as that period of world history was, those Krugerrands were to her a symbol of the respect she had for Tig’s character and bravery. She had been grateful that God had given her an honorable avenue to donate.
Maggie smiled again. She was so proud of Tig. And, Tig would be proud to think that his Krugerrands would, one by one, Christmas by Christmas, end up in red kettles, placed there by those mysterious men.