Beware of Cat

Beware of Cat by Vincent Wyckoff

Book: Beware of Cat by Vincent Wyckoff Read Free Book Online
Authors: Vincent Wyckoff
sorry,” I said. “It’s just so hard to believe someone would steal a car from right in front of your house. And right under that street light.”
    “The cop told us that with a screwdriver a car thief can break into a car, start it up, and drive off faster than I can using my key.”
    The whole episode seemed implausible to me. After all, this was a relatively crime-free neighborhood. A person would have to be mighty desperate to steal a beat-up old car like that one. Her husband joined us, and as they told me about the band they had seen the night before, my gaze wandered past them over a hill down on the next block. I could just make out the roofline of a car. It caught my eye because it seemed to be parked at an odd angle to the curb.
    “Hold on a second,” I said, stepping up between them on the top step to get a better view down the street. The color was right, and it appeared to be a full-size sedan like theirs. I descended the steps and began walking toward the lip of the hill and the car beyond. “That sure looks like your car down there,” I called over my shoulder to them.
    It was. Wearing their pajamas and bathrobes, they followed me down the street. We found the gearshift in neutral instead of park . After rolling across the intersection and downhill for half a block, the car had jumped the curb and come to rest against a boulevard tree. The impact had been slight, the damage minor, especially in light of the normal decrepit appearance of the car.
    We sure had fun teasing her about it, though, and even the cops had a good laugh when they returned to close the case.

    I FOUND ANOTHER ITEM one day that wasn’t exactly lost, either, but had far more serious potential consequences. I had returned to my jeep after delivering a block of mail and found an extremely upset little boy. Next to him was the smallest two-wheeled bicycle I had ever seen. The training wheels looked like they belonged on a toy truck. As I drew near, his sobbing howls escalated in volume and intensity. He was anxiously watching me, and I sensed that his performance was intended to attract and hold my attention. Strapped over his shoulder was a school backpack. Tears streamed down his chubby black cheeks as he clung with both hands to the bicycle.
    “Hello, young man,” I said, walking past him to the back of my jeep. A fresh round of wailing erupted. I took off my satchel and stuffed it inside. Turning to face him, I squatted down to be closer to his size, but kept my distance. I had never seen this child before. I wanted to help him, but I needed to avoid any sort of action that could somehow be misconstrued as improper. While I’m walking my route, there are eyes everywhere. Even when I haven’t seen or talked to anyone for a couple of hours, people make note of my passing. The last thing I wanted was for someone down the block, glancing out their window, to misread my intentions or motives. But the poor kid was crying his eyes out. He wasn’t faking this fear, and right now all I wanted to do was wrap him up in a bear hug and reassure him that everything would be okay.
    “What’s your name, little buddy?” I asked, forcing cheerfulness. Many people are more open and trusting around someone in a uniform, but this little fellow was just too upset for that. After pausing briefly to catch his breath, he began howling again, although not nearly as loud as before. His big brown eyes never left me.
    I told him my name. “I’m the mailman around here. I sure would like to help you if you’d let me.”
    Deep sobs interspersed with hiccups.
    “Do you live around here?”
    Finally, a timid nod. His face was drenched with tears and snot. I opened the door again and was startled by the immediate resumption of ear-splitting wails. I grabbed a tissue and quickly shut the door. Taking a few steps toward him, I dropped to one knee and held the tissue out to him. “Here you go, pal. Use this to wipe off your face.” I should have known

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