The Final Piece of the Puzzle

By Jon Moray

The Final Piece of the Puzzle is my first story published that did not have a fantasy element to it. This story was published in print by Grey Wolfe Publishing in October 2013. Enjoy!

On a rainy Saturday afternoon, Sheila Watson’s turbulent, drug abused, unemployed life took an intriguing turn, in the form of a package delivered to her door by the postman. She curiously scribbled on the electronic signing pad and received the rectangular shaped box that didn’t have a return address.

She retrieved a pair a scissors from the kitchen drawer and sliced open the box at the seams. Inside was another box, white in color. She slid the cover off the top that revealed pieces to a jigsaw puzzle. Upon closer inspection, she noticed that all of the pieces were white with words in black cursive on each piece. The words were easily legible on the large irregular shaped pieces.

The scramble of words piqued her interest, as she took the puzzle to the dining room table. She wiped the flowery patterned tablecloth of the beer she spilled the night before and removed overdue payment notices by tossing them into the trash. She smoothed out the tablecloth and then reached into the box.

Wonders of the identity of the sender went swirling in her head. The list of suspects were few. She was an only child and both her parents were deceased; her father she never knew. Friends kept their distance due to her addiction and Uncle Roy was quirky enough, but illiterate.

She methodically pieced together the frame starting from the top left corner as if she was reading a letter. Oh great, a freaking stalker. As if I don’t have enough problems, she mused.

Piece by piece she navigated through the mystery with her head swelling of skepticism. What kind of nut job am I dealing with? She wrestled with the notion of giving the puzzle the same fate as the overdue bill notices. She retreated to the fridge only to be disappointed by an expired vanilla pudding cup as her only source of nourishment.

She returned and tore through the rest of the puzzle short of one missing piece, which happened to be the one that revealed the author. She checked the box, and all around including the pasta sauce stained area rug under the table.

Resigned to the realization that she had been pranked, she angrily pounded her fist on the puzzle. As she was about to tear the pieces apart, she noticed how eerily similar the penmanship was to her own. She perused the letter further and read aloud.

Dear Sheila,

You don’t know me but I know plenty about you. I have seen some of your best and worst times. I was there in the shadows as you sung a beautiful solo at your 7th grade recital. It was my voice you heard from the drawbridge warning you not to step out further onto the frozen river. At fourteen, you were arrested of marijuana possession but you recovered. You were stunning wearing that violet dress when you graduated high school. I now realize you and I are alike in many ways. I hope to meet you soon and for us to get to know each other.


Below the void was a post script that read, “P.S. If you want to learn my identity, I always eat at your favorite restaurant, Romanio’s, on Monday nights at seven. I will have the puzzle piece with me by the booth nearest the restrooms.” Sheila huffed at the cryptic invitation and immediately dismissed the offer, only to revisit it mentally several times that night and the rest of the weekend.

Monday came and she spent the day filling out applications at several market places. Daylight surrendered to night and the time came for her to make a decision. She showered and dressed as she further pondered the offer. What do I have to lose? This bozo could’ve snuffed me out at any time. The restaurant is always crowded. I‘ll take a chance.

A quick splash of blush and eyeliner and she was out the door. Ten minutes later she entered the establishment, hung a sharp left and headed towards the restrooms. As she approached, she spied the puzzle piece faced down on the table. Her heart drum-rolled as she caught sight of a man in his forties, with a tinge of gray streaking his dark brown hair. She sat down as he pushed the puzzle piece towards her. Without making eye contact, she fumbled with the piece and flipped it over.

“Dad?” she asked, astonished as she looked up to see her deep blue marble eyes staring back at her.

“Your mother wasn’t totally honest with you. I was imprisoned during her pregnancy. What your weaknesses are were mine before I cleaned up my life and I can help you with yours.”

“You‘re not my father,” she stammered, while studying his high dimples identical to hers.

“Rick Watson is my name, your biological father. I work as a private investigator.” He handed her his business card with his cell phone number on it. “Do me a favor. Go to the precinct. Ask anyone there about my background, good and bad. Do some research and if you want us to get to know each other, give me a call. I will always be there for you, my daughter.”

Tears flowed from Sheila’s face as she fiddled with the puzzle piece in her trembling hands. “I want to go home now,” she stuttered, looking away.

“Okay Sheila. I hope we meet again,” he said, rising to his feet and nodding adieu.

She spent the next few days checking up on his claim. She learned of his drug and robbery incarcerations, and read about his volunteer work as a prison minister for his church. The more she learned about him, the more she wanted to learn and felt she needed to learn.

A week later, she finally made the call.

“Hello?” Rick answered. “Hello…Dad…” she said softly, while carefully fitting in the final piece of the puzzle.


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