A cat ran down the cobbled street in Chantilly, Virginia. The bare trees stood tall around the Chantilly Courthouse as leaves littered the streets. Autumn was setting in and there was a coolness to the air. A group of mean boys chased the cat away from an alley. It stopped behind a hamburger joint to lick its sore paw and stare into the window. People were seated at neat little tables with the classic red and white cotton tablecloths. The cat could smell the hamburger and French fry grease mingling in the air. It began to rain, as the cat crawled behind the dumpster, hoping to find a morsel of leftover hamburger. It would settle for a half-eaten French fry. The hour was getting late, nearly dark now and raining harder and the wind had picked up, so the cat settled there for the night, under the dumpster and waited for the quiet.


The mean boys were still running in the streets, cursing at women who tried to stop them. They were a gang of six. The Six, as they liked to be referred to. Things were going missing in the town and everybody knew The Six were to blame. They had a reputation for stealing from the local candy store and boasted that they would never be caught. They held weekly meetings in the alley to discuss how they were going to rob various businesses and do it without a witness. They were proud of their reputation as bad news boys. One boy, Little Freddy, was always trying to show up the others. He bragged the most. Perhaps it was to make up for his small size, but he always got respect from the other five. You might say they looked up to him for his fierce nature. It was getting chillier, so the boy pack decided to wander into the diner. They had no money, but were hoping to see someone to panhandle. They looked around and saw a few people from school. They had been skipping classes all month and looked away when they saw the disapproving stare of a few moms sitting with their children. Little Freddy got a sick feeling in his stomach. At his insistence, the boys left the diner to look elsewhere for trouble. As they were leaving, they noticed a group of teachers sitting toward the back of the diner, next to the little window. They were having a meeting.


The next morning, Mary Snodgrass, the richest woman in Chantilly, ran crying frantically out of the Police Station. Someone had stolen her wallet. It was not just any wallet. It was her best, favorite navy-blue wallet with a gold chain and diamond inlay. It contained $200 cash. Ms. Snodgrass ran right up to Little Freddy and demanded he return the wallet immediately. Soon other townspeople came to watch and some got involved. Little Freddie stood his ground. “Did you see me take it?!”, he yelled at the crowd. The other five boys just stood there staring, having never seen such a commotion. A cat ran by and Little Freddie kicked it. It meowed a loud painful meow. Little Freddy laughed. He was going to show this town not to mess with him. The other five began to find their guts and started to yell back at the crowd. “Did you see him take it?!”. Mary Snodgrass happened to be one of the school teachers and was not one to back down from an unruly child. She tried to grab Little Freddy by his scruff. The other five came to his aid, but just then, an angry cat came out of nowhere and scratched Little Freddy hard across his face. Then something happened, strangest thing. Little Freddy started to cry. His friends, began to back away. He looked so pitiful that Ms. Snodgrass immediately apologized and tried to wipe his bloody face with her glove. He cried harder, explaining through tears and slobber that he had never stolen anything in his life except one piece of candy and he was sorry to make people think that. He admitted that he just enjoyed the attention. Soon others were joining Ms. Snodgrass and trying to console the poor child. The Five became scared and confessed that Little Freddy was telling the truth, they just wanted the attention, being orphans and all. So, when everyone stopped crying and yelling and it was mostly quiet again, Ms. Snodgrass asked, “Does anyone know where my wallet is? Please tell me and I won’t be angry any longer”. Everyone stared suspiciously at everyone else, and it appeared that no one knew where the wallet was. The cops came to search the willing townspeople, who were all eager to catch the real crook. They searched everyone, until the late evening and did not find the wallet. Darkness came and still no wallet. Little Freddy and the other five found a friend in Mary Snodgrass and went to join her at the hamburger joint for a bite to eat and a shoulder to cry on. It was now obvious that the boys did not take the wallet. And it was a complete mystery. She stared out the dark window of the hamburger joint, wondering where in the world the wallet could be. It started to rain lightly, misting over the small diner window that hung in the back of the diner, just over the dumpster. Outside the window, leaves began flying in a windy spiral as the children and their teacher had pumpkin pie and drank hot chocolate with whipped cream. They enjoyed each other’s company for once as they tried to answer a mystery. The warmth of the diner fare provided a protective shield to the unusually chilly Autumn air outside.


But somewhere, under the dumpster, behind the hamburger joint, amongst other missing items, a certain cat was licking his wounds and chewing on a wallet with a gold chain which had diamond inlay with $200 inside, none of which he cared one cent. The navy-blue color pared perfectly with the dark Chantilly fur of one very mischievous cat as a diamond could be seen shining brightly against a broken piece of glass, belonging to a little diner window which the wind had blown open the night before.

October 19, 2019 21:10

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