Why? Mama, why? But it’s older than me and we’ve had it for so long! Why?
In the damp grey cold of an early Sunday evening, hours before the year’s first full moon shone through thick, grey-flannel clouds, we walked to the movies. Early with an hour to spare, we waited in line for the anticipated sell-out Muppets show. The line grew as light faded while our pig-tailed trio talked to familiar faces. Stuffed animals rested in our wagon while the sisters told stories of where they’ve been pulled, told anyone who’d listen that they wanted popcorn and Pez and gummy bears as soon as the movie started.
We parked the wagon where bikes rest, placed a beloved silk screened bag inside it, and went into the sell-out show for our island’s tiny, under 100-seat side theater.
Credits rolled, Mah Na Muh Na under our breath, and it wasn’t the damp chill of the air that took our collective breaths away.
Our wagon had been stolen.
Maybe they were hurt and needed a pull? Maybe we could save up in our piggy banks and buy a new one? Said Betty, shaken more each moment with her sisters’ pain and shock.
I could tell by the look in my husband’s eyes that we were almost past wagon use with a two, four and seven year old. Our eyes met with a no, we won’t get another one. This really &%$# sucks.
I was so angry. I immediatly called the sheriff to report my stolen wagon. I pictured someone setting it free from its vintage post and rolling it down Spring Street straight into the salty seas, lauched just briefly from the ferry landing. I had to stick around to fill out paperwork from the police, so Luke walked three teary ladies home.
I walked into the lobby, up to the cheerful teens working the popcorn counter and asked if they noticed a wagon being ripped off earlier. I explained my four year old’s heartbreak and my total anger over the whole situation. They walked me out the lobby door, as if to say sorry and it was at that moment, in marquee’s shadow that the ticket girl began yelling.
Hey! Nice one! You stole that! simultaneously as the other girl said, Hey, is that your stolen wagon?!
I took off running across the street. Luckily, it wasn’t tourist season so I didn’t have to look both ways.
I was yelling. Two teen girls were joy riding it down firehall’s hill, and somehow they rounded the corner almost at my sneaker tips. I grabbed the handle from the taller girl just as the wedged-in rider jumped out.
Hey! Not cool at all! That belongs to my four year old and you made her cry! Not cool, not cool at all! I screamed up hill in persuit of the girls. As I ran and asked them to stop, I got my phone out and turned on the camera. As I ran, I thought that my four year old would take the loss the hardest. It had been her idea to wagon to the movie. One girl stopped as I cut her off with my vintage Kangaroo sneaker. Apparently, I held some courage in that shoe’s tiny velcro pocket.
Hi, I said, what’s your name? I said repeatedly, rudely. She answered, and I took her picture and took off running for the joy rider. I jumped in front of her, snapped a photo as she said, Fine, I’ll tell you my name.
I said, I’d love to tell you how you broke my kids’ hearts. You stole a wagon from three children. Not cool.
They took off running, new Red Lodge vintage motorcycle silk screened black bag flapping in hand. I called the sheriff. It’s a small town so an avenged wagon was the biggest news of the day. The sheriff was on his way to look at the photo.
An older man smoked a cigar on the bench, coughed a giggle and sat back with only the excitement a true evesdropper and/or rubber-necker enjoys. I would have loved to see this, this odd moment on a main street.
My girls and hubby heard screams and shouting and yelling and came skipping back down the street.
Of course I would never press charges over an apprehended wagon, but I do hope the girls come to understand their silly actions made three little ladies cry very much. I thanked my movie spies and asked the cigar man if he enjoyed his show. He laughed and was just about to utter, Yes, through thick smoke, deep laughter when I heard:
Mommy! You caught the robbers! Good job! Thanks for getting our wagon back!
Simply, there was no way someone else’s kids were going to steal my children’s wagon.
We walked back in full moon’s beam, happily taking wagon turns. Truth be told, our wagon was a hand-me-down wagon from another family from another island. But memories run deep and make even slightly battered wagons precious and irreplaceable.
I’ll sleep well tonight knowing I’ll go to the ends of the earth for my babes, or just up a hill screaming for something they love.