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Florence's Tree



Florence Foster sat in her wooden rocking chair.
At the age of ninety-two, she passed her time sitting in the lounge room looking out the window. She sat in the same place every day soaking up the sun.
Sandy, her great Dane, lay relaxed on the floor beside the rocking chair listening for any trouble, which might cause his mistress any stress. His head rested on the feet of Florence.
Florence looked up from her crocheting. She watched two men walk around the very old, shady tree, which grew on the footpath in front of her house. The men carried a chainsaw, an axe, rake, and shovels. A back hoe was parked on the other side of the road.
Florence put down her crocheting.
She reached for her walking stick.
Standing. She shuffled from the lounge room, down the passageway to the front doorway. She stood there to watch the men while they measured the girth of the tree.
She didn't like the way the men sized up the tree.
Florence, with Sandy hot on her heels, followed his mistress from the doorway, down the path to the tree.
What do you think you are doing,” asked Florence from behind the men.
We have orders to cut down this tree, Madam,” replied one of the men.
Shocked.
Florence became very angry. So angry she waved her walking stick at the men.
Over my dead body,” shouted Florence. “Who gave you those orders?”
Our foreman, Sam James. He sent us here with specific orders to cut down the tree. There has to be some work done to widen the street. The sign said this is Grove Avenue.” The man produced a piece of paper with orders written on it.
Yes.” Florence's voice shook from her extreme anger at the person who had given the order.
No one would be allowed to cut down her tree. Her husband, of seventy years, had helped her plant the tree when they had first moved into the house.
No one is cutting down the tree. It has weathered seventy years. Never been attacked by termites. Lived through many a drought. Most times I have carried my washing water out here to keep it alive when we weren't allowed to waste water. The tree is going to stay where it has stood all this time.” Her face became red from the stress at the thought of her beautiful tree going to be cut down. Her Bill had left her after a long illness. These men weren't going to take away the last memory of her wonderful husband.
The men became very worried at the shade of red her face had become. This wasn't good for a frail, old lady. They didn't want to be the cause of her collapsing. Or dying. But they had their orders to do this job.
I know what our foreman will say if we don't do the job. He will be very angry with us,” pleaded one of the men, trying to calm the situation.
I don't care. I'm not moving from beneath my tree. It has been my friend for many a year. It listened to me in good time, and sad times. I'm staying here to save it. You can cut down the tree while I stand in the shade.” Florence plastered a pleasant smile on her lips. She thought she had them beat.
The men's patient wore very thin.
They paced around the tree think how they could move Florence without injuring her. Each didn't want the responsibility of forcing her to move.
I'll contact our foreman. He'll have you removed. He'll use force, if necessary.”
With a sad, tired smile, Florence watched the men walk over to the truck. “You can try,” she shouted at their retreating backs. “But I'm not moving an inch.”
One of the men, Frank Riley, open the door of the truck to speak on the radio. “Sam. WE have a problem here.”
What kind of problem. Has the tree caused some damage?”
No. There is an old lady standing beneath the tree. She won't move out of the way.”
Sam yelled.
He cursed.
You should have finished the job before, now. Time is money. Move her.”
We can't.”
Why not?”
There is a very, large dog with her. She is adamant she won't move.”
Surely you two can lift her and carry her out of the way.”
We can't.”
Why not. You should be able to do this,” scoffed Sam.
Have you ever tried to move a frail, angry woman, using a walking stick for a weapon. Especially, when she has a big, Great Dane, standing guard over her, bearing his razor sharp teeth at you.”
Don't tell me you are frightened of a dog,” came a sarcastic reply from Sam.
You're welcome to come out her and try. If you think you can do a better job,” suggested Frank,
praying he hadn't pushed his boss too far.
Right,” exploded Sam. “I'll be there shortly. I'll show you weakling how to do your job.”
Within a short time, the angry foreman brought his car to a screeching stop. He shoved the car door opened.
He slammed it shut.
He stomped his way to where his workers stood beside the truck.
Well. Give me the chainsaw. I'll cut down the tree.”
Joe Fraser went to the back of the truck to collect the chainsaw. He carried it around the truck to hand it over to Sam. He hid a smile. He knew what to expect when Sam approached the tree.
Sam took hold of the chainsaw.
He stomped across the road toward the tree.
Florence, and Sandy, watched him approach with a set look of determination on his face. He was there to do the job. He intended to get it done no matter what. Sam halted in front of Florence. Dark clouds of determination showed he meant business. Lightning flashed across his eyes showing his fierceness. His tall frame towered over Florence, and Sandy.
Behind them came a lot of screeching brakes. Car doors banged. The neighbours had spread the word of the ensuing situation. Journalists, and television reporters, raced to the scene to see what all the fuss was about.
Well. Here comes the cavalry, Sandy,” announced Florence, patting Sandy while she sat there patting Sandy.
What are you intending to do about that,” Florence snapped at Sam.
Nothing. Kindly remove yourself, Madam. The tree has to go. The job has to be completed, today,” Sam told Florence, in his no nonsense voice he used to his men.
No. It doesn't. You can try. If you think you are man enough to remove me,” challenged Florence.
Sam placed the chainsaw on the pavement.
He advanced toward Florence.
He was determined to remove the pesky woman.
No way, was he going to let an old lady get the better of him. She wasn't going to stop him doing the job. He intended to remove her.
Big bully,” came a shout from the building crowd. “Leave her be.”
Sandy stood from where he'd been laying relaxed on the ground. He placed his big, horse-sized body between his mistress, and the advancing, menacing man moving closer.
Each step brought Sam closer to danger.
A deep, throated growl tore from the mouth of Sandy. The sound loud, and long, before he began to sleek toward Sam.
Sam quickly decided a retreat might be a good idea. For the moment. Sam picked up the chainsaw to use as a weapon. His hand dropped the chainsaw back on to the pavement from lifeless fingers, when Sandy moved faster toward him, Sam raced across the street to jump into the truck out of the way of being attacked.
Sandy grabbed the seat of Sam's pants while he tried to reach safety. There came a ripping sound moments before the door slammed shut.
A piece of material hung from Sandy's mouth. He dropped it. Sat panting like he laughed at the menace he had disposed of.
Sandy strolled back to be with Florence. He retrieved the rag to carry to her like a trophy. When Florence had taken the rag, she told him, “Good boy.”
He was finished.
Time to have a little fun. He'd been cooped up inside for a few days. He had an audience.
Sandy walked over to the chainsaw. He picked it up with his mouth by the handle. His strong jaws clamped around the handle. Sandy cast a look in the direction of Sam then took off down the street.
Joe, and Frank, were the first to take chase to try to retrieve the chainsaw.
Sandy galloped ahead. Stopped on occasions to see who chased him. He take off, again, keeping a short distance ahead.
The crowd entered the chase to see who would be the winner. They tried to cut Sandy off. This was too much fun. Other people giggled at the site of the Great Dane being chased. The television crews were driving along the street to catch most of the action of the great chainsaw race.
After Sandy had had enough fun, he brought the chase back to where it had begun, minus the chainsaw. He has hidden it along the way around the streets. Sandy sat next to Florence to lick her face to be praised for a job well done.
The Mayor arrived in a police car to see what had been happening. He wanted to see more than he watched on the television. He walked over to where Florence sat with her back against the tree. The Mayor felt things were not like he had expected. The woman hadn't moved since he had arrived. She hadn't looked in his direction. Or hadn't looked toward the sound of the siren.
Sandy let the Mayor walk up to Florence.
The Mayor reach out to feel for a pulse at her wrist but, none was found.
Florence had fought her last battle with the loss of her life. She will be with her beloved husband at last.
The Mayor straighten. He faced the crowd arriving on the scene.
This lady, Florence Foster, has passed away in her attempt to save this tree. It must have meant a lot to her. So I decree this tree shall stand in this place until it dies. A plaque will be erected here as a monument to Florence, and what she believed in.”
The crowd applauded the decision. They made way for the ambulance to collect Florence to take her away for the next part of her journey to be with her husband.



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