Mom and Dad waved goodbye as I stood with Grandma on her wooden porch. Our blue family mini van disappeared down Old Orchard Grove Lane toward Main Street. They were leaving me for two days. I started to cry.
"Don't cry Thomas. We are going to have a wonderful time together, just you and I. We have all weekend to play games and read stories."
Grandma's soft voice and smiling green eyes made me feel better. She always smelled like roses.
"You are almost 7 years old now, and big boys should try to be strong," she said.
We went inside to get some chocolates and milk.
I sat at the kitchen table and looked at the cats on her wallpaper. Grandma liked cats. I counted all the magnets on her refrigerator. Most of them were cats too.
"Where is Mr. Bill," I asked?
"Oh, that crazy pussycat is probably climbing Mrs. Swenson's apple tree again. He gets stuck at the top and can't get down. I had to get my ladder out to rescue him the last time."
"Can I go outside and play in the yard?" I asked. "Maybe I can find him and we can chase each other."
Grandma told me that was fine, as long as I didn't go anywhere else. She opened the back door and said she would be right out after doing the dishes.
I called for Mr. Bill, but he didn't come. He wasn't in the apple tree. I asked the squirrels and robins if they had seen him. No one knew where he was.
Then I saw him! Mr. Bill's fluffy, white, whiskered face was staring at me from the woodpile. He scampered off running toward the road and down the hill. I followed him, calling "Mr. Bill! Mr. Bill!"
Down the hill I ran. That crazy cat just disappeared, but I kept searching everywhere. He wasn't in the bushes or under a car. He wasn't up a tree or in a garden. I kept calling and looking, but he was gone.
The sidewalk ended and then Main Street was in front of me. Cars and buses sped by. Grown ups rushed past me as if I wasn't there. I was LOST!
A man with a big nose in a tall white hat was cooking hot dogs, and I could smell mustard and onions. Yuck! His silver barbecue on wheels had a green and white umbrella on top. Two rude ladies wearing hats with purple feathers started talking loud and scared me. I ran away from them, and bumped into a mean looking man with a tattoo on his arm.
"Come here little boy," he said. "I want to talk to you."
I backed away and tried to remember how to get home. A blinking ice cream sign made me hungry. I went into the store and asked the ice cream man if I could have a chocolate cone.
He had a long black moustache and wore a white apron with strawberries on it. He smiled and told me to sit down. I could see him talking on the telephone. When he was done, he scooped some chocolate ice cream into a sugar cone for me. His name was Dario. I told him my name was Thomas and that I was trying to find Mr. Bill.
A tall policeman wearing a blue uniform with a shiny badge came in and sat down beside me. He asked if I was lost, and where I lived. Grandma made me remember. She would say it over and over again. I told Officer Bob my Grandma lives at 67 Old Orchard Grove Lane, and her phone number is 727-5509.
He said I was a smart boy and took me to his patrol car that had a big red light on top. I buckled my seat belt, and listened to the crackling radio as he drove.
Before I could get scared again, Mrs. Swenson's apple tree was right in front of me. Grandma was waiting on her front steps and she ran to the police car when she saw us. Officer Bob had taken me home!
I was hugged and kissed and scolded all at once.
"Don't you ever run off like that again," said Grandma. "I was worried sick."
Mr. Bill was sleeping on the porch. I ran over and gave him a big hug.
"You little rascal! Don't you ever run off like that again," I said.
Grandma took us both inside and we played games on the floor all afternoon. Mr. Bill kept jumping into the middle of everything.
I was happy.
From now on, I will listen to Grandma and stay close to home until I am bigger.
©2002 John A. Mayer